Friday, February 3, 2017

Review: The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins

The You I've Never Known The You I've Never Known by Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Release Date: January 24th, 2017
Purchase: Amazon
How do you live your life if your past is based on a lie? A new novel in both verse and prose from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Ellen Hopkins.

For as long as she can remember, it’s been just Ariel and Dad. Ariel’s mom disappeared when she was a baby. Dad says home is wherever the two of them are, but Ariel is now seventeen and after years of new apartments, new schools, and new faces, all she wants is to put down some roots. Complicating things are Monica and Gabe, both of whom have stirred a different kind of desire.

Maya’s a teenager who’s run from an abusive mother right into the arms of an older man she thinks she can trust. But now she’s isolated with a baby on the way, and life’s getting more complicated than Maya ever could have imagined.

Ariel and Maya’s lives collide unexpectedly when Ariel’s mother shows up out of the blue with wild accusations: Ariel wasn’t abandoned. Her father kidnapped her fourteen years ago.

What is Ariel supposed to believe? Is it possible Dad’s woven her entire history into a tapestry of lies? How can she choose between the mother she’s been taught to mistrust and the father who has taken care of her all these years?

In bestselling author Ellen Hopkins’s deft hands, Ariel’s emotionally charged journey to find out the truth of who she really is balances beautifully with Maya’s story of loss and redemption. This is a memorable portrait of two young women trying to make sense of their lives and coming face to face with themselves—for both the last and the very first time.

My thoughts:
No one can really like or love Ellen Hopkins books. They are always so real and raw that it leaves at least me with an uneasy feeling and I sometimes even feel gross.  That being said though, they have to be read because Ms. Hopkins shines light on tough subjects that need to be talked about and she's brilliant in her delivery each and every single time.  

I've read several books by Ellen Hopkins so I knew beforehand this book would be tough to read and it was, but it didn't quite pack the punch that her previous books did.  This was a good and bad thing in my opinion.  I appreciated the dialed back story line, but I did miss the ugliness.  This book isn't pretty by any means, but it just wasn't as dark as it could have been.  I feel strange saying I wanted it darker, but I kinda did and maybe that's because I know how dark Hopkins can go. 

This story was dark though, we have a girl who is trying to find out if she is gay while living with her abusive father who can't know her struggles.  See dark subject matter and there were a lot of dark scenes and I can't lie I did fall into the overall story line.  I wanted to find out who Ariel would chose for a partner and I wanted her to kick her father to the curb.  It wasn't an easy story to read, but Hopkins did an amazing job at delivering Ariel's voice.  I couldn't put this one down.

I think my favorite thing about this book was Ariel.  She had a hard life, but she didn't let that get the better of her.  She worked hard and she knew she wanted more out of her life than what she was handed.  It's tough to think that way and rise above, but she did and it made my connection to her stronger.

I don't want to give spoilers, but I figured out the twist pretty early on and I think that was the authors intent.  It wasn't hard to figure out and I'm glad I did so that I could read between the lines going forward. 

I believe this is a great story for readers especially with diversity being a huge topic in our world.  Hopkins did a great job at incorporating diversity throughout and I think teens that read this will appreciate what Hopkins does in this story. 

All in all I found this story moving and one I won't forget.  I never forget a Hopkins story though and while I did want this to go darker, I still very much became attached to these characters so much so that I wanted more of an epilogue.  I found myself thinking about Ariel, Monica, Maya, and even Gabe long after the final pages were over and I just want more.  I hope one day we get to see these characters again because I want to see their endings.

4 snowflakes


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